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The Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has slighted the government’s Tenant Fee Bill that has now been introduced to the commons.
The RLA states that the Bill is a missed opportunity for the government to make more effective improvements to the rental market. The current bill will take months to become law and then a significant period of time to implement.
ARLA Propertymark has also spoken out about the potential failings of the tenant fee bill, arguing that tenants may end up worse off with a fee ban rather than the aim of a more affordable rental sector being achieved.
Since May 2015 letting agents have been told to publish details of fees that they charge. Agents who break this law are liable to be fined up to £5,000.
However, figures published last year by the National Approved Letting Scheme found that after two years of the law coming into effect, 93 per cent of councils did not issue a single financial penalty to a letting agent for breaching the law. A mere three penalty notices had been served across England.
Instead of banning letting agent fees paid to tenants, the RLA is calling for better enforcement of the law as it currently stands, including the Government making use of powers to force agents to display the fees they charge in more prominent positions.
This includes the Government using powers it has so far failed to use to force agents to display the fees they charge in more prominent positions and specify them in much greater detail.
RLA Policy Director David Smith stated: ‘With warnings that the policy could lead to rent rises, there is a very real danger that whilst the cutting the upfront cost of renting, tenants will find themselves paying them through higher rents on a permanent basis. Instead of using scarce Parliamentary time to make changes to letting fees much of which could be done by regulation and better enforcement, the Government could do more to reform the deposit system to deal with the need for most tenants to fund two deposits, one for the property they are leaving and one for the property they are going too. This cost is much higher and a much more substantial barrier to tenant mobility than agency fees.’